Fact: Wisconsin is an awesome place to make, study, and play video games! (And I’m not just saying that because of our ridiculously long winters…though that certainly helps). ❄️
By now, it’s no secret that Wisconsin is home to a thriving (and growing!) game development scene, supported by a robust network of game design and development college programs. We’ve got AAA studios like PUBG Corporation and Raven Software (Activision), indie teams like Flippfly and BASEMENTMODE, serious game devs like Field Day and ourselves, and so much more – seriously, there’s never been a better time to make games in Wisconsin!
Beyond a growing lineup of studios, our home state also hosts a variety of gaming events for developers, researchers, and enthusiasts alike. Here’s a guide to next year’s shows happening right here in cheesy, breezy, beautiful Wisconsin:
When: TBD Spring 2021
Where: Whitewater, WI
What: Kicking off our list is UW-Whitewater’s annual Media Arts and Game Development (MAGD) Expo – a juried showcase of student-made digital games, 3D, 2D, aural, virtual, and animated creative work. Featuring playable game demos, presentations and panels, and cash prizes for exhibitors, MAGD Expo is an awesome (and free!) way to get an early glimpse at the talents offered by Wisconsin’s next generation of game developers.
When: May 3, 2021 + TBD Winter 2021
Where: Menominee, WI
What: Next up, another student showcase from one of Wisconsin’s leading game dev degree programs – UW-Stout’s Stout Game Expo (SGX). Similarly offering attendees the chance to demo dozens of games created by students of all levels, SGX takes place twice per year – capping off spring and fall semester – and is another must-attend (and free!) event for folks seeking hands-on time with awesome student games.
When: TBD Summer/Fall 2021
Where: Madison, WI
What: Taking place right here in our home city of Madison, Play Make Learn is all about the research, industry, and practice of play – with a special focus on projects and innovations from Wisconsin and the greater midwest. An annual gathering of game developers, academics, and enthusiasts alike, the event is also home to the James Paul Gee Game Design Award program – highlighting the year’s most fun, educational, and novel game releases.
When: TBD October 2021
Where: Madison, WI
What: Next up, Wisconsin’s premier event for aspiring and professional game developers – the Midwest Game Developers Conference (M+DEV)! Organized by local gamedev organization the Wisconsin Games Alliance, M+DEV offers attendees a full day of panels and speaking sessions, hands-on local game demos, and networking opportunities galore – for a closer look at the event, check out these pictures from last year’s event.
When: November 5-7, 2021
Where: Milwaukee, WI
What: Rounding out our list is a midwest gaming classic, with roots tracing all the way back to 2001 – the aptly named Midwest Gaming Classic! Hosted at downtown Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, the event boasts more than 150,000+ square feet of retro and contemporary game consoles, pinball and arcade machines, PCs, tabletop board and card games, and more – culminating in a can’t-miss event for gaming enthusiasts throughout the state.
More Wisconsin gamedev resources:
Wisconsin Games Alliance website
Madison Indies (Facebook Group)
Midwest Game Developers (Facebook Group)